After being ridiculed, abused, scorned, and verbally spat upon for admitting that I don't really have a taste for Belgian beers, I decided to acquire one. I just can't handle being an outcast. At least, not among fellow beer snobs. So I've been trying some. And you know, I think I might be on my way to conversion.
I started in the obvious place: Chimay. Specifically, the Premiere (aka "Red Label.") And I liked it just fine – a very bold, quality ale, a sharp but not overpowering touch of bitterness. Although I was worried that I may have liked it because it didn't really have those strong spices that I associate with Belgian beer that have always put me off. My only real quibble is the price – while this is certainly a tasty brew, it ain't $9 worth of tasty, even if it does come in a 750ml bottle. Convert that to a 12oz beer, and you're still talking $4.26 a bottle. Sorry, for that kind of money, I'd better orgasm.
Today I decided to follow the advice of Lance and Bill C. and go for Allagash. Which I suppose is still cheating a bit – it's actually brewed in Portland, Maine, so it's technically a Belgian-style ale. Cheating or not, I'm digging this. It does have the Belgian taste I expected, but not so much that it makes me recoil, as some others have. Wow, I think I may have converted in the space of a mere 6oz or so. This is good. And at $7 a bottle, it's a little more reasonably priced, although this will still be a special-occasion beer for me. Kind of like the $50 scotch.
Super malty – which is not a problem for me, I can be a malt-head or a hop-head. And perhaps a slight hint of chocolate. And yes, quite strong, although not as strong as I could have gone. I opted for the Dubbel, which clocks in at 7% alcohol. I had the choice of the Tripel (9%), but I have to bicycle home at some point tonight. And I can already tell it's going to be hard enough after this.
Okay, I'm having the same experience I had when I tried to learn to like bourbon. The first time I sipped Jack Daniel's (yes, technically not a bourbon, please spare me), I was put off by the sweetness after having developed my whiskey palate on scotch. But something about the flavor stayed in my brain and kept calling me back. Now I love it. I can tell the same is about to happen here. By the end of this bottle, I'll probably be wondering how I ever didn't like this stuff. Then again, maybe I've just hit on a particular Belgian that fits my tastebuds, and will have a hard time finding others I like. It's kind of like being an explorer.
Thanks for turning me on to Allagash, Bill and Lance!